For new graduates or, well, anyone
The Best Advice I Ever Got
by Katie Couric
Read by Katie Couric and a cast of narrators
Random House Audio, $35
6 CDs, unabridged, 71/2 hours
What it's about: Soon-to-be former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, asked to dispense her advice for a happy life for a college graduation speech, decided to collect similar thoughts from a wide range of well-known people. She casts a wide net, including dozens and dozens of people in politics and government, sports, pop music, literature, journalism, television and movies, pop culture and business -- from Jimmy Carter and Anna Quindlen to Apolo Ohno, Morgan Freeman, Ellen DeGeneres and the Jonas Brothers. Couric divides the advice into thematic sections, such as "Pluck and Perseverance" and "Hard Work and Tenacity," and begins each section with a personal story.
Why listen: This audiobook exudes positive energy and a can-do spirit. While some of the advice becomes repetitive -- "Say yes!" "Don't listen to naysayers." "Follow your passion." -- the relentless optimism is, as Martha Stewart would say (and yes, she's in here, too), "a good thing." In the midst of listening to this, I found myself in a bit of a trying circumstance, and, inspired by the advice I'd been hearing, forged ahead with some degree of confidence. Note: Except for Couric, the readers are actors.
Caveat: The best stories in the book come from those who took the "best advice I ever got" idea literally and have a tale to tell about a life-changing moment. (Matthew McConaughey comes to mind.) It's somehow comforting and inspiring to know that übersuccessful people have had their share of challenges, too. Those who simply give advice without a narrative are a bit less interesting.
Buy the book: While it's easy to retain the overall message, when I finished the audiobook I was hard-pressed to remember exactly who had said what because of the sheer volume of information. This is a book that would be great to have handy on a shelf, for easy reference when you feel the need to reboot your attitude. And yes, it would make a great gift for a graduate.
-- Catherine Mallette